The Division of Germany (1945-1949)

By | October 14, 2021

Governance of the victorious powers, denazification

With the “Berlin Four Powers Declaration” of June 5, 1945, the military commanders in chief of the four victorious powers (USA, USSR, Great Britain, France) took over the supreme power of government in Germany in accordance with the agreements of the Yalta Conference (February 4–11, 1945). The areas of the German Empire east of the Oder and Lusatian Neisse, southern East Prussia, the former border region Posen-West Prussia, Upper and almost all of Lower Silesia as well as the part of Pomerania and Brandenburg east of the Oder (“German East Areas”, almost a quarter of the Reich territory from 1937 with around [1944] 9.8 million residents; Oder-Neisse line) and the areas incorporated after December 31, 1937 (especially Austria and Sudetenland) were separated from Germany. The four victorious powers each occupied one of the four zones of occupation and one of the four sectors of Berlin that were contractually assigned to them by the London Agreement of September 12, 1944 (London Protocols). The Allied Control Council was constituted as a joint governing body and began its work on July 30, 1945; Berlin formed a special unit under four-power administration (Allied High Command Berlin). The Saarland was spun off from the French occupation zone (August 30, 1945 / February 12, 1946) and was placed under a separate French administration – initially to the extent of 1935, then expanded in 1946/47. Austria was – with the settlement of the occupation (4.7.1945) – returned to its statehood. Learn more about Germany and Europe, please click

In departure from earlier plans for dismemberment (including Stalin offer from 1941, “Danube Bund” idea by W. Churchill from December 1943 [Tehran], Morgenthau plan von 1944) the Allies agreed to treat Germany as an economic unit and to set up some German central administrative bodies, but this did not happen. According to the zoning, the occupying powers formed their own supreme occupation authorities after the establishment of local and military governments of the federal states: the “Office of Military Government US-Zone” (OMGUS; seat: Berlin and Frankfurt am Main; worked until 1947 according to the JCS 1067 directive), the “Control Commission of Germany, British Element” (CCG / BE; seat: Berlin), the “Conseil de Contrôle de la France pour l’Allemagne” (seat: Berlin) and the “Soviet Military Administration in Germany” (SMAD; Headquarters: Berlin-Karlshorst).

According to the communiqué of the Potsdam Conference (Potsdam Agreement) of August 2nd, 1945 and their London Agreement of August 8th, 1945, the victorious powers led the condemnation of those captured in November 1945 to eliminate the survival of National Socialism as part of the “International Military Tribunal” in Nuremberg Leaders of National Socialist Germany (war crimes trials, Nuremberg trials) as well as denazification and re- education of the forces favoring National Socialism in the German people.

Germany Policy and East-West Conflict

A heavy burden for the economic reconstruction was put by v. a. up to 1948 represented the reparations and dismantling, especially in the Soviet occupation zone (SBZ). With regard to services from the western zones and especially to the Ruhr area, the reparations question also became a major point of contention between the victorious powers. The consequences of flight and displacement of around 13 million Germans from the “German eastern regions” and from Eastern Europe (displaced persons), but also the uprooting of millions of people in Germany (evacuees, refugees, displaced persons) exacerbated the social and political problems of the establishment stable post-war orders.

The domestic political basis of the division of Germany, which was divided into four zones of occupation, was the emergence of political, economic and social systems based on opposing values, combined with the different reorganization of administration and government. In all zones there were local or regional re-founding and re-establishment of communist, Christian, liberal and social democratic parties, initially at the state level, without the emergence of all-German party organizations. With the admission of four parties (KPD, CDU, LDP [D], SPD) in the Soviet Zone, the SMAD initiated the formation of a party system in June / July 1945, which was under strong pressure to harmonize the communists and the occupying power. After the compulsory unification of KPD and SPD in the Soviet Zone for The Socialist Unity Party of Germany (SED; April 21/22, 1946) secured the sole political leadership in the Soviet Zone under the protection of the SMAD within the framework of the block system; parliamentary opposition was no longer possible.

A pluralistic party system emerged in the western zones, soon dominated by the CDU / CSU and the SPD.

The development of East-West relations, especially between the USA (and Great Britain) and the Soviet Union, which increasingly turned into confrontation in 1946/47, was decisive for the German question. In view of the failure of the victorious powers ‘efforts to establish a common policy on Germany (especially in the wake of the Soviet policy of obstruction at the Foreign Ministers’ Conferences of 1946/47), the Western powers, turning away from all-German options, took independent German policy initiatives.

Basics of the dual state of Germany

Following the recommendations of the “London Six Power Conference” (February 23–6, 1948) and the formation of the “West Union” (“Brussels Treaty” of March 17) and the resignation of the Soviet representatives from the joint occupation bodies in Germany and Berlin (March 20, 1948) . and 13.8.1948) the Soviet occupation zone and the western occupation zones developed constitutionally and socio-politically into contradicting states under the split of Berlin: The SED responded to the establishment and expansion of the “Bizone” (since 1.1.1947) with the 1st “German People’s Congress for Unity and Just Peace “(December 6/7, 1947), which, as the constituent body, formed the 1st” German People’s Council “(March 17/18, 1948); with the German Economic Commission (June 14, 1947) a central executive body had already been created in the Soviet Zone. The conflict over the currency reform carried out separately in West (June 18-20, 1948) and East (June 24-28, 1948) intensified until the Berlin blockade (1948/49) and worked according to the »London Recommendations« (»Frankfurter Documents «dated July 1, 1948), as a catalyst for the establishment of the state under the leadership of the victorious powers.

The Parliamentary Council constituted on September 1, 1948 on May 8, 1949, on May 12. The Basic Law (GG) of the Federal Republic of Germany approved by the military governors was solemnly proclaimed on May 23, 1949; At the same time, the state symbols (German colors) were established; the third stanza of the Deutschlandlied did not function as the national anthem until 1952. 1949) and passed by the 2nd German People’s Council (October 7, 1949). The foundations of the two-statehood of Germany were in place; from 1949 to 1990, German history then proceeded in separate ways (German unity).

The Division of Germany (1945-1949)